Spread a Love Feast for the Birds
Valentine's treats for your backyard buddies
by Elizabeth Wells
for Real Families, Real Fun
ongs of love abound around Valentine's Day, but it's not the only time that you can hear soulful tunes. Thanks to some melodic birds, the air is filled year-round with sweet, light songs.
Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show these feathered friends that their colorful presence is appreciated. So, set aside the bread for French toast and spoil them with other tasty delights - sure to make them return again and again.
In my family, each winter we make treats for the birds in our yard. Over the years, we vary the treats and create new ones. Whether the birds you love are in your yard or in the park, consider the following recipes to show your appreciation.
- Spread pinecones with peanut butter, suet, and birdseed. Hang them upside down to look like hearts.
- Combine popcorn and cranberries to create red and white valentine garlands.
- String oat and fruit cereal garlands for more color.
- Cut oranges, grapefruit, or lemons in half; scoop out the middle (for a people salad), and thread yarn through the upper half to make a hanging birdfeeder (like a hanging planter). Fill the citrus birdfeeders with berries, nuts, or birdseed.
Tricia Sypniewski, a mom from Ohio, says her family cut clementine oranges in half and a few into slices, and then pierced string through to make a sunshine garland. They then hung the garland in a tree where they could see it "from the family room and my daughter's bedroom," which inspired talks about nature.
When my family finished making our treats, we bundled up to go outside to hang our gifts for the birds. In consideration of my children's sizes when they were little, we decorated easy-to-reach bushes. As they grew, we graduated to tree branches. The decorations made a perfect picture for a Valentine greeting. We felt so inspired that we created homemade Valentine cards for friends. Between drawing and sipping hot chocolate, we would look up to watch the birds enjoy our gifts. And what a pageantry we attracted: cardinals, blue jays, and chickadees.
To add an educational element to this activity, keep an illustrated bird guide near a window so you and your kids can learn to identify the birds you see.
TAKE IT FROM ME
Squirrels are looking for a feast this time of year, too, so spread some seeds, fruit, dried corn, or popcorn on the ground to detour them from stealing the feast from the birds.
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